Salt Lake City seeks public’s feedback on providing services to area’s homeless

Posted at 10:25 PM, Apr 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-30 00:25:48-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- When it comes to homeless services in Salt Lake City, Bill Tibbits is full of ideas.

"I think we definitely want things to be walking distance," he said. “That is big.”

In color-coded sticker responses, he shared those thoughts with city officials Wednesday evening. He was one of about a hundred who stopped by Salt Lake City Hall for an open house to hear what the city plans to do with its homeless shelter and surrounding resources.

“With all this talk about building a bigger, better shelter, we are possibly taking resources away from things that work to something that won't work as well,” said Tibbits, who helps head the Crossroads Urban Center.

The event was organized by the Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission, which was established by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker in order to address the growing need for homeless services in the community.

“As the downtown has moved in and surrounded where are homeless facilities and services are, it creates conflict,” Becker said.

The commission is comprised of 28 business leaders, services providers and city and state officials. Their task is to figure out whether or not to move the shelter from its current location in the Rio Grande district--where its growth has caused issues for businesses and residents.

“Everything is still on the table,” Becker said. “And we are trying to decide what works best.”

On display during the open house were case studies of homeless services in other cities, such as Denver, Colorado and Portland, Oregon.

According to service providers, it would not be feasible to simply move the shelter without moving the nearby health services as well. They argue that separating the resources would make it more difficult for people to utilize them.

"It’s so important. This is our neighborhood and our neighbors,” said resident Christine Ashworth.

The commission is scheduled to meet four more times before making a recommendation by January. The next open house is scheduled for November.

If you were unable to attend Wednesday, you can comment online by clicking here.